What does kid friendly really mean? To me, it means simply that the writer has told a great story, with believable characters and lots of twists and turns to keep kids interested. Some internet sites have been set up specifically to present such books. Check out James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead.com and Jon Scieszka's Guys Read site. But the best person to consult about kid friendly books is your child himself.
If we want our kids to enjoy reading, we need to give them access to material they want to read. Checking a book to see if it has won a literary prize is probably not the best way to filter books. Rather, let your child choose, and make sure she has plenty of books to choose from. Go to the library together and research appealing subject matter, or try the old-fashioned approach and browse. Check out book reviews in the kidlitosphere until you find a book that sounds as if it could be your child's new friend. Rummage through market stalls and read a couple of pages together before making your choice. Sure, kids will make some inappropriate choices. I knew many youngsters who demanded Harry Potter books when their reading ability just wasn't ready. I like to think they grew into those books just like hand-me-down jeans. The more we choose, the better we get at choosing.
Books can be our friends. If someone's bashing you up for your lunch money, reading about a bully getting his come-uppance is even better than sticking pins in dolls. When you suspect the cute kid on the bus thinks you're a dork, distract yourself with a tale of dragons and dwarves. Those nights when you're convinced nobody understands you, escape to a place where you walk in your favourite character's shoes.
And the very best thing about books? They stay our friends for life.
(Photocredit, Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/ferronj/2313719364/)